After tackling a tough run of fixtures in Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain travel to Ukraine looking to make it two wins from two in the Champions League as they face Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night.
The game will be played at the Arena Lviv, just 1,200 kilometres west of the Donbass Arena, due to the issues that currently plight the city of Donetsk. It reduces PSG’s journey a little, but that won’t make it any easier a task for Laurent Blanc’s men.
Shakhtar are a team who are used to playing in European competition.
They regularly qualify for the Champions League. Shakhtar have shown that they're a well-organised club with lofty ambitions. There's a lot of hard work involved in reaching that status. We'll need to work hard to prepare for this match and then do what we need to do on Wednesday.
Mircea Lucescu’s side shook off the 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in Matchday 1 with two league wins and progression in the cup—scoring 10 goals and conceding just twice.
Shakhtar qualified by finishing second in the Ukrainian Premier League last season, and with nine games played, they find themselves in the same position this campaign, just three points behind Dynamo Kyiv. Both sides meet on October 16, and this will be a great test for club before that huge league game.
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST (2:45 p.m. ET)
Venue: Arena Lviv, Lviv
TV Info: BT Sport (UK), Fox Soccer (U.S.)
Live Stream: BT Sport (UK)
|Last Five Results|
|Shakhtar Donetsk||Paris Saint-Germain|
|Olimpik Donetsk 2-3 Shakhtar (League)||Nantes 1-4 PSG (Ligue 1)|
|Ternopil' 0-5 Shakhtar (Cup)||PSG 3-0 Guingamp (Ligue 1)|
|Shakhtar 2-0 Stal Dniprodzerzhynsk (League)||Stade de Reims 1-1 PSG (Ligue 1)|
|Real Madrid 4-0 Shakhtar (Champions League)||PSG 2-0 Malmo (Champions League)|
|Metalist 0-5 Shakhtar (League)||PSG 2-2 Bordeaux (Ligue 1)|
On Monday, Blanc named a 21-man squad for the trip to Lviv, and he will be happy that all of his big-name players are available. Apart from third-choice goalkeeper, Nicolas Douchez, there are no injury or suspension concerns for the Parisians.
Although PSG need to prepare for Le Classique on Sunday, expect a full-strength XI from Blanc on Wednesday night.
Shakhtar need to kick off their Champions League campaign with a positive result, and Lucescu will likely line-up in his normal 4-2-3-1 formation. Taras Stepanenko is suspended after his red card against Real Madrid, he will possibly be replaced by Maksim Malyshev.
Brazilian trio Marlos, Alex Teixeira and Taison should play behind Ukraine international Oleksandr Gladkiy—with former Arsenal striker Eduardo starting on the bench.
Shakhtar Donetsk (4-2-3-1): Andriy Pyatov; Darijo Srna, Olexandr Kucher, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Marcio Azevedo; Fred, Maksym Malyshev; Marlos, Alex Teixeira, Taison; Olexandr Gladkiy
PSG (4-3-3): Kevin Trapp; Serge Aurier, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Maxwell; Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi; Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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During Saturday’s 4-1 win over FC Nantes, when PSG were behind throughout most of the first half, the camera kept panning to France international Blaise Matuidi.
Blanc rested the 28-year-old, but you could see from his expression on the bench that he was desperate to be on the pitch. There is little doubt he will be back in from the start on Wednesday, and his drive and industry, plus the quality of his left foot, will be vital to PSG’s chances.
"Their team is comprised of very technically gifted players," the France midfielder told PSG TV. "I think that it will be a beautiful match. We'll need to try to starve them of possession, because they're not used to that. It will be a tough match, and we'll need to be vigilant. In any event, we'll do all we can to go there and get the win."
Shakhtar have lost only three of the last 16 home games in the UEFA Champions League—winning eight. To have any chance of winning their ninth, they will need to find a way to contain PSG’s star-studded attack.
Cavani has scored 16 goals in his last 15 Ligue 1 games, plus Di Maria has three goals and three assists in his last six games. Ibrahimovic is still trying to find his best form, but he thrives on performing in this competition.
Lucescu will be deciding who replaces the suspended Stepanenko; he will also be considering who should start in defence. Kucher and Rakitskiy are his first-choice, but 23-year-old Ivan Ordets has played in the league as of late.
Odds (via Odds Shark)